Saturday, 28 June 2008

paper squares

Friday 20th June 2008

cut ups

The lively morning lot didn’t fail to disappoint me with their interpretations of what I was asking them to try and do, though the fact that it was written based presented me with all sorts of different groans.

The first activity was one that nearly all took to well, and that was writing with either the eyes closed or with the other hand, and some opted for both. I whispered a secret word and they had to repeat what they were writing until I called their time.

However, many showed reluctance when I tried to get them to write more than just this word.

It was the lads that came up with the goods and provided some beautiful lines by collaging together words to create their own poem. Lines such as “basic insecurity is scary” and “it’s crucial to have an active way of thinking” blew me away. I was really impressed with the way their minds were processing t! hese thoughts and also not surprised, as I know all the group is capable despite reluctance to write.

The afternoon’s session was spent creating cut up poems that had been written through automatic writing for five minutes.

The choice was to write about what was going on for them right now and observe where their thoughts lead them, or to use a cut up line from a Jenny Holzer poem entitled “Truisms” to start their thoughts off. There were many interpretations of what I was asking which led to the wide range of variety in the creative work explored.

At the end of the day I was delighted that I had seen some of the student’s potential brought out and could relate so much to the hesitancy to explore through art and writing, but admired those who really tried to let go of their reluctance.

There are particular poems and moments that stand out in my mind from the session and I hope we each got something from the day.


more images at

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Verbivisivoco (word vision voice)

I picked up the exhibition from Buxton Art Gallery and Museum today, and was really pleased to get a copy of the visitors comments.. 208 of them! The vast majority where very positive, with variations on comments such as “very moving, thought provoking, excellent, educational, inspiring and interesting.” Here are a few of my favourites:

“you are (if it’s not too flowery) creating an ecology within which flowers bloom that would otherwise be unseen.”
“Am inspired to start my own last brilliant phase now before it’s to late.”
“Extra ordinary portraits of ordinary people”
“A moving and interesting and slightly upsetting portrayal of an overlooked group of people. Yet rewarding and very thought provoking.”
“Conceptual art sucks!"
and finally “Magnificent!! The most moving exhibit for years. Congrats.”

what's going on?

so what is going on with our posts? well, we used to have two sites for arthur+martha, this one, a general site and one for our walks project. I decided we should stream line it, so you can view all our projects on one blog... so I've copied and pasted all our blogs into one, hence random dates on posts below....

Working in the Great Outdoors

The sessions today were lively and enjoyable. I'm just really glad it wasn't raining so we could be outside as planned. I invited the young people to work with whatever materials there were to hand in the environment. No paper, no pens, no paint, just leaves, flowers, car tires, logs and litter. The imagination was stretched and they rose to this creative challenge fantastically.

They were enthusiastic and continued to work with themes from last of "what matters to me". Friendship and family were a recurring issues, as was music. They used their bodies again to work with, to find ways of leaving their mark, stating their own identity.

A personal scupture trail was created and left for others to see or the wind to scatter.


more images at

Football, crisps, friends and family

Friday 6th June

I worked alongside Rebecca Guest inviting the group to think about making their own piece of art using the topic of "what matters to me". Giving them limited materials of pen, paper, masking tape and their own bodies they set too with great enthusiam. Topics ranged from football to crisps, friendship to family.

We then took the budding artists outside to the sculture trail where I asked them to consider how they could use their enviornment to place their work. They showed tremendous creativity by coming up with repeated options and displaying their pieces, both using thier bodies and the locality as additions to their expression.

Christine Evans

more images

scotch terrier, bulldog and a moggy

I had a fantastic time in Israel; one of the highlights was placing and photographing these label works. The text for these pieces came from a collaboration with older Jewish people living in Manchester. We had a lively conversation about what it felt to be British, and stereotypes around Britishness. These where then applied to the labels by hand or using lettroset transfers.

In Israel I had many conversations about peace, and about the organisations, (from individuals to football teams) all trying to make their voices heard for peace. It’s a fascinating/depressing/hot/lively/scary/wonderful place to go and make art work, and I look forward to going again and developing more ideas.
Please view more images at and

sound 28th May 2008

Gareth Bibby, led the sessions at the Y Zone and Riverside School Radcliffe last week on the 23rd. Working with 20 young people, he used experiemental techniques working with the group to create sound pieces a using; voice, table football, air hockey, chairs..... investigating 'pitch' and 'volume'. We are looking forward to using some of these creations in the final sound piece, that will be played at the celebratory event 19th July.

A trip to Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail 20th May 2008

On Friday, we went on a visit to the Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail, to work with the two groups from Riverside School. The groups took Polaroid photograph portraits of each other, amongst Ulrich Ruckreim's sculptures ( which were hole punched and threaded through with string. These were then sited throughout the area - on trees, hung in mouths, wedged into the sculptures, held in hands.

Everyone was given two evidence bags, and asked to collect objects from around the park, things of beauty or of disgust. The group gathered a range of objects, leaves, flowers, sheep dung, rubbish, broken glass… these bags were placed in situ and photographed.

For more photos, please go to

Inscape: a stone walk 7th May 2008

On the 25th April, arthur+martha, started a new series of workshops with school children from Radcliffe, Bury. We started work gathering material for a
series of art/textworks that are representations of imaginary sculptures, to be devised by the children themselves;

These pieces will be placed along the Irwell Sculpture Trail at an event in July. They will be temporary works, many of them very discreet, which engage with the sculpture trail and with the landscape, the form of these works will emerge during the forthcoming workshops.

Last week we worked with Bobby, Steffan, Michael, Oscar, Jordan, Nathan in the morning and Phil, Josh, Kay, Rebecca, Sadaef, Mathew and Page in the afternoon. Activities included experimental drawing techniques, text art, photocopying, poetry and photography. We investigated issues such as, what would you leave behind? What unfulfilled dreams people have? what defines our existence? what is sculpture? and positive images of yourself and others.

Thanks to all the contributors and staff who helped.

To see further photos go to our flickr site at

a sunday gathering 7th May 2008

After a hectic gathering of materials, photos, text and sounds, on Sunday morning we arrived at St James the Less, New Mills, to form the gathering event. With the invaluable help of David Bell from High Peak Community Arts, Peter Inman and the Friends of St James the Less, we put together a exhibition event, showcasing some of the work produced in the previous workshops and walks.

About 80 people came to the event at St James the Less on Sunday, and viewed, listened and took part in the performance. The atmosphere developed as the evening brought darkness, the projected images became clearer… Reminiscence/poetry from older people in New Mills, had been laid out in the form of concrete poetry, and placed in booklets around the church. Photos taken by participants in the walks, and selected texts where projected on walls throughout the church- some distorted by the church interior itself- the physical presence of the church creating another collaborator. Occasionally a visitor or participant would become part of the projection, walking across the image, creating a moving photo, adding to the effect of layering and shadow play. This was particularly effective during the wonderful performance from the High Peak Community Arts Choir, whose song sheets and clothes became temporarily decorated with images of trees, branches and thorns.

Experimental sound recordings where played throughout the church, playfully such as water sounds hidden in the font, or more challenging sound/scapes played through headphones working with the directional signs. Sounds of children and birds floated through the church, bringing the outside in.

Candles with further text/art where placed on a window sill, bringing a detail of flickering light. The combination of sound, text, photo and perhaps most important the church itself, combined to create a unique atmosphere and experience.

Thanks to High Peak Community Arts, Friends of St James the Less, The Volunteer Centre, The 60 Not Out Group, New Mills Primary School, the Derbyshire Community Foundation, the HPCA choir, artist Simon Byford, Arts Council England and all the participants in the art/text/sound workshops.

a gathering walk

you are invited to our latest exhibition event at the Church of St James the Less, Spring Bank, New Mills, Derbyshire. Sounds, words, images and memories of New Mills, gathered by people of all ages. The evening will showcase artworks, digital slideshow, animation, poems and choir. Its free and open to all.

Writer Philip Davenport and I led a winter walk and follow-up workshops, and will be creating a poem/image installation with the gathered material. The words, photographs and sounds trace the imprints of both a winter walk and the people who went on it.

The aim is to ‘re-see’ through diverse visions of the world, to enrich people’s means of observation and to connect the contemporary landscape with its multi-layered deeper histories.

The results of all this work will be on display at The Church of St James the Less for one evening only, and will be part exhibition, part performance. The event is hosted by The Friends of St James, who will also be providing light refreshments.

Sunday 20th April, 7.30 - 9.30pm doors open at 7.00pm.
Collaboration project between, High Peak Community Arts, arthur+martha and the people of New Mills.

The workshops and the event have been supported by the Derbyshire Community Foundation and High Peak Community Arts.

Lois Blackburn

New Mills Primary School Walk

On Thursday (20th March) Phil and I went to New Mills Primary to work with 31 children from Year 3 and their teacher Miss C. Webster. Heavy rain prevented us from going out on our proposed walk, so instead we created a class room walk. We started with a soundscape walk, recording the children imitating sounds from nature, including listening to bird sound. (I was impressed by their knowledge of bird calls!) We then drew with scissors, creating paper flowers for the forthcoming exhibition. The children finished the session by creating a concertina folded book. These took us on individual journeys from home to school, investigating concrete poetry, and drawing round toes on the way!
They where a wonderful group to work with, and I hope to see them all at the exhibition!

future plans

would you like a text/art walk in your area? we'll be starting projects in Bury and Radcliff later in the spring and are currently in discussion with groups in Gamesley Derbyshire, Bristol and Berwick-upon-Tweed. Text/art walks can be built around themes such as local history, geography, dialect, folklore, healthy lifestyles, identity, green issues and biodiversity. We will develop proposals specific to the needs of your community. have a look at our website to find out more

Saturday walk 18th Feb 08

Yesterday Phil and I led a text/art walk in New Mills, Derbyshire. Themes for the collection of text, sound and image came from the Church of St James The Less, where we will be holding an exhibition in April. James.htm A group of 8 left from the New Mills Heritage Centre for a four hour walk in the sunshine, taking photos in the Tors and looking at the site of wonderful new Torrs Hydro Electric Scheme (due to start construction this March) walking by Torr Vale Farm, making sound recordings and writing at the river, walking the Canal, eating sweets at Swizzels Matlow, more photos and sound recording at Waterside and back finishing at Central Station.

We've gathered a wealth of material for future workshops, starting this Wed with a poetry workshop at High Peak Community Arts

valentines/love/kissing walk 18th Feb 08

Just been out playing with love hearts (from our local sweet factory Swizzels Matlow) on one of my favorite walks in preparation for the family walks in New Mills on the 16th and 17th of February.

We asked older people in New Mills where they had their first kiss, these reminiscences will inspire our walk around the town and local countryside, maybe even inspiring some more kissing!

You can view my love heart/kissing collection at our new flickr website

memory of walking 18/02/08

We've just finished our series of workshops with older people from New Mills, reminiscencing walks taken in their youth. From first kisses down 'Cow Muck Tunnel', to church parades and walks to school, participants have shared their stories and created poems. Next we are going to plan the family walk, using all the material gathered here. If your interested in taking part ring High Peak Community Arts ring 01663 744516

a walk 18th February 2008

A gathering walk

This is an open invitation: to explore the New Mills area, gathering impressions with photography, text and sound recordings for an installation in St James Church.

Artists Lois Blackburn and Philip Davenport (in collaboration with High Peak Community Arts) will lead a series of winter walks and follow-up workshops, creating a poem/image installation with the material. The words, photographs and sounds will trace the imprints of both a winter walk and the people who went on it.

If you come on one of our 'gatherings' you also have an open invite to add to this blog. What were your thoughts and feelings, your impressions (or depressions) as you came with us? Would you like to send a photograph to add to the blog? The more material, the richer the mix. All and everything is welcome. And that means you.